Patriot League teams will face restrictions during the fall sports season, including limited travel and a condensed season, according to guidelines released by the league Monday.
“I’m an optimist and I always try to look on the bright side,” Bucknell football coach Dave Cecchini said. “So for the season to still be on is great. It also sends the message that the health and well-being of our student-athletes is the No. 1 priority, which was reflected in the guidelines.”
Patriot League student-athletes will return to school at the same time as all other students. Bucknell is currently scheduled to begin classes on Aug. 17.
Teams in the Patriot League are not supposed to fly and there will be no overnight travel, with rare exceptions.
Patriot League contests will begin at the end of September and league play should be completed by Thanksgiving, and non-league contests can not begin until Sept. 4.
“These principles are the result of thorough conversation among Patriot League presidents and athletic directors, and Bucknell Athletics fully supports the league’s position,” Bucknell Director of Athletics and Recreation Jermaine Truax said in a statement.
Bucknell is scheduled to begin the football season Sept. 4 at Army, and Cecchini said that game was still on as of now.
Cecchini also said there would be some challenges with the football players arriving on campus at the same time as other students.
“We’re in a new age of sports and life with the coronavirus,” Cecchini said. “There will be challenges. A lot of our players are not adequately prepared for the season. They’ve tried their best, but they’re not ready to go. We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to do things from a workout standpoint to get in better shape as a team.”
Cecchini said the team is allowed to meet on Zoom to discuss plays, but is currently unable to hold a group workout on Zoom. Cecchini said the coaching staff was examing several different options that fit within the Patriot League’s new guidelines, and followed the NCAA rules for summer workouts.
Patriot League teams are also instructed to confirm that non-league opponents are following appropriate safety protocols.
“The health and safety of our entire campus community is the highest priority, and at the same time we will strive to deliver the best possible experience for our student-athletes within those parameters,” Truax said. “In the coming days, we will be working with our fall coaches to revise practice and competition schedules that meet the league’s guidelines while mitigating the health risks to our student-athletes, coaches and staff as much as possible.”
The Patriot League statement said that athletic directors and league staff are working to develop schedules that will meet Monday’s guidelines.
Cecchini said the goal for his team hasn’t changed, and that’s to win the Patriot League title.
“We have the potential to play a full schedule or very close to a full schedule, assuming the coronavirus doesn’t flare up during the season,” Cecchini said. “In the Patriot League, we all have the same restrictions, and we’re fighting for a Patriot League championship. We might not have the same rules as Penn State or Villanova, but that’s not our concern.
“Our concern is to be the best team in the Patriot League.”